Sensor, Return Beam Vidicon (RBV), Landsat 3


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

In the 1970s NASA inaugurated the Landsat series of satellites to study the Earth from space. The program demonstrated the practical benefits of research from satellites: for the first time the Earth's natural resources--land, water, and vegetation--could be mapped and studied continuously and on a global basis. Landsat 1 (originally called the Earth Resources Technology Satellite) was launched in 1972.

One of the main instruments used in studying the earth from space on Landsats 1, 2, and 3 was a Return Beam Vidicon (RBV) camera. Essentially a television camera, the RBV provided black and white images of the Earth and also was used to calibrate and intrepret images from a companion instrument on Landsat--a multi-spectral scanner (MSS).

The NASM artifact is a backup for the RBV that flew on Landsat 3, which was launched in 1978.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Credit Line

Transferred from General Services Administration


  • Aluminum
  • Anodized Aluminum
  • Plastic
  • Steel
  • Copper Alloy, Copper Foil,
  • Paint
  • Silicone
  • Teflon
  • Gold Plating
  • Velcro
  • Magnesium
  • Rubber
  • Nickel Plating
  • Glass
  • Beta Marquisette
  • Aluminized Mylar
  • Paper
  • Ink
  • Adhesive
  • Cellophane
  • Anodized Steel
  • Foamcore display board


Storage: 201 × 83.8 × 151.1cm (79 1/8 × 33 × 59 1/2 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America


SPACECRAFT-Unmanned-Instruments & Payloads

Inventory Number